There’s a common belief that as a mother, our needs are fulfilled last. Our food is always cold, we’re in a perpetual state of exhaustion, and the thank you’s for our service are few and far between. And that’s all true.
I want you to feel bad for me, because being a mom is tough. Like it is SO hard. The Internet is abuzz with thousands of “poor mom” pieces for a reason. Articles about our selflessness, our martyrdom, our greasy hair. As a mother, they don’t get old. But I think it’s time for honesty…
I would have you all believing I’m the MVP of suffering in my family, but today I’m feeling generous and I’m going to step out of the spotlight so my husband can shine like the diamond he is. Things got hard for me when I became a mother, but they got harder for him.
When I became a mother, I forgot that I was also a wife. I’ve read that your marriage has to come before your children, and while I think that’s an adorable sentiment, it’s not the blueprint for my life. I’m hardwired to protect and care for my child; it’s an instinct, not an option. Don’t misunderstand me, my marriage is important… but it’s a lot more self-sustaining than my toddler that hasn’t mastered a fork. My marriage isn’t going to starve to death and that’s why, on way too many days, it comes last.
I spend a great deal of my time wading in guilt over my desire to do anything for myself. Lunch with a friend, having my hair done, and career aspirations all contribute to my mental anguish. I’m consumed by thoughts for my child and thoughts for myself. And he gets what’s left over. I’d like you to believe that moms come last, but that’s just not the order of things around here.
The truth is, at the end of the day I’m hardly ever thinking about how I should have greeted my husband with more than a grumble. I’m always thinking about what went wrong for me parenting wise and how I’ll make it up to my daughter tomorrow. After I’m done with that, I start making empty promises to myself about all the exercise I’m going to do and all the food I’m not going to eat. I spend more time thinking about cheese quesadillas and how to avoid them, than I do about being a better wife.
Before I had a baby, my Stepford rating was a solid 7. I enjoyed doing things for my husband and was considerably more thoughtful. I wasn’t a baker of pies, but I knew how to use a credit card, so gifts were standard and a cheese-laden casserole was the norm. I’d leave notes in his coat pocket too. Now, there is a drawer full of lingerie that hasn’t been opened in so long that I might accuse him of cross-dressing if it were noticeably disrupted.
My husband has made my life so comfortable that all I have to do is change diapers and think about whether or not I want to get a Master’s degree. You’d think it was a prison sentence. And some days I act like it is. Some days I think we all do. I think we spend a lot of time sharing posts glorifying what we do as mothers and forgetting what it’s like to be a partner. We forget what it’s like to be the person who gains the responsibility of another human, but in many ways loses the attention, affection, and support of one as well.
This isn’t about obligation; I don’t think wives should behave in any one way or adhere to any type of social standard. But I do think that when you love someone, you should do your best to make them feel loved. I spend so much time thinking about how I’m spread thin; I fail to see everything he does to lighten my burden.
I’ve been mailing it in, using motherhood as an excuse for bad behavior. If I was half the spouse that I expect my husband to be, and half the wife that I am a mother, we’d be in a lot better shape. I’m not sure if my marriage can come first right now, but I am sure that motherhood can’t eclipse it anymore.
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